Intersubjective Plateaus in Language and Communication

by Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak (Volume editor) Marta Bogusławska-Tafelska (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 292 Pages


In the volume, to locate the science of language and communication in the most recent philosophical and methodological context that science offers today, we have proposed reconciling two avenues of the scientific process, i.e. the “third-person observation-experiment-algorithm method being the traditional method of doing science; and the inner, first-person insights of contemplative science, in a sense of phenomenological flânerie through unexplored cultural landscapes”. The present book targets research addressing the phenomenological aspect of communication and the methodology of linguistic research. The volume may be of interest to linguistic scholars, cultural linguists, semioticians, interdisciplinary scholars, and students of the humanities and cultural/social specialisations.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBooks can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Section One: Literary epoché in the African context
  • “Isn’t it just possible that we are all abikus?”: The prevalence of the abiku/ogbanje motif in the literature of Nigeria (Paula García-Ramírez)
  • Contrapuntal othering in the short stories of Nadine Gardimer (Beata Świerczewska)
  • Section Two: The speaker and the system
  • The impact of new communication modes on the language behavior of Moroccan youth (Fatima Ez-zahra Benkhallouq, Wahiba Moubhir)
  • Towards a typology of elative expressions within a functional approach to parts-of-speech systems (Ventura Salazar-García)
  • Section Three: Communicative phenomena in apperception
  • Micro-expressions in the eco-linguistic model of communication: Beyond linguistic egos and towards an agenda-free, inclusive relating (Marta Bogusławska-Tafelska, Michał Wyciński, Natalia Malenko)
  • The Polish language as a value or a necessity? The image of the Polish language contained in the collected corpus of utterances of the D/deaf (Marta Wrześniewska-Pietrzak)
  • Perception of harmonious communication by representatives of the young generation of Malaysians in the context of intercultural communication and international economic cooperation with China (Katarzyna Mazur-Włodarczyk)
  • Selected stereotypes in Polish jokes about Jaś and blondes (Anna Rajchel)
  • Section four: Communication in spiritual experience
  • Communication with God: Utilizing Michel Henry’s Radical Phenomenology to Analyze Hesychastic Meditation (Sally Stocksdale)
  • Semiotactic mapping of Stone Tablets and Magen David as heriatic markers of Judaism in the institutional sacrosphere (Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak)
  • Section Five: Geopsychic vignettes in the community context
  • Dich sehe ich niemals wieder. Monuments, sights, and pieces of art as reflected in alba amicorum entries from the collection of Wrocław University Library, ca. 1740–1800 (Anna Michalska)
  • Identity contingencies in an autoethnography of Polish Bukovina dwellers (Joanna Gorzelana)

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We are happy to present the reader with the monograph which continues the project undertaken in the series Communication as a Life Process (Vols. 1 and 2).1 Although the series material substance as an exploratory milieu moved to the Peter Lang editorial, the lodestone of its ontology remains the phenomenon of human communication. The project, which started with the publication of the first volume in 2017, has been developing for over 5 years now, so it might be time to ponder retrospectively on the overall course the venture has taken throughout these years. In the quest to establish a unified methodological position, we definitely set ourselves one far-reaching goal: to approach communication as a phenomenon in the ecological environment. As stated in the preface to the Volume 1 (Bogusławska-Tafelska 2017): “[t]‌his scholarly meeting ground is designed to allow the complementary co-existence of avant-garde proposals of ecolinguistics with the voice of mainstream language studies”.2 Hence, if we were to capture the emergent value of the project, it could best be described by the word synergy: new dynamic qualities emerging by providing a unified discussion plateau for sometimes divergent voices on the ground of ecolinguistics. This is, nota bene, in compliance with the latest trends in ecolinguistics, proposing to swerve from paradigm optics to platform optics as far as the study of communication phenomena is concerned.

To locate the science of language and communication in the most recent philosophical and methodological context that science offers today, we have proposed reconciling two avenues of the scientific process, that is to compliment the traditional “third-person observation-experiment-algorithm method” with the first-person insights of contemplative science, in the guise of phenomenological flânerie through communication phenomena. In continuation, the present ←9 | 10→monograph targets research addressing the phenomenological aspect of both communication itself and the methodology of linguistic research.

For this book we designed a Leitfaden that was intended to relate more closely to a phenomenological perspective, in particular, along the thread reflected in the writings of Edmund Husserl and inscribed in the phrase intersubjective plateaus. The move was motivated by the fact that, contemporarily, phenomenology is gaining momentum as a seminal platform of research in the human sciences, showing its potential from day to day on various levels, starting from a variety of activities as coordinated by, for example, Olga Louchakova Schwartz and Randolph Dible (e.g. Sophere reading group), through conferences and a plethora of research relating phenomenological work to analyses of the contemporary world.3 It thus seemed a promising avenue coupled with an ecological worldview that would enrich ecological research with new insights.

In our continuing commitment to provide a plateau for multiple optics, we invited contributions designed to clarify issues of intersubjectivity, the ontology of the ‘presentation’ of the self and of ‘the other’ in a communicative exchange, particularly in situational contexts. Indeed, this thread inscribes itself into the fabric of the reflexivity of social practices. The volume thus aims at a synthesis conceived not that much of from a paradigmatic perspective, but rather a pragmatic one (meta-perspectivity), thus contributing to comprehending – possibly through contesting mainstream works – the ephemeral phenomenon of human communication (epoché).

The final shape of the monograph thus emerged by creating internal linkages on a hierarchy of levels. The opening of the hierarchy was definitely the proposed call for this volume. Then, there was a dialectal matching between potential contributors’ creativity channelled through their research profiles, trying to match the topical thrust of the proposed volume. There were also linkages between particular contributions within the volume and also across previous monographs within this project. If I were to circumscribe the meta-dimension of communication studies within ecological plateaus, that would be by looking at communication as phenomena lived and experienced through the modalities of the other person’s existence, which is not exactly the same as looking at the ‘recipient’ of the message; in the traditional Bühler/Jakobson communication model.←10 | 11→

The present volume has to be seen as a continuation of that ongoing project and, more importantly, within the context of the previous volumes. The two volumes that have already appeared shared a common thrust of enquiring into the multifariousness of human communication.4 They brought together researchers from different countries and perspectives. Among such an internationally diverse set of contributors, we covered such topics as:

classroom and educational ecology; autoethnographies of therapy in a prison workshop; the intangible resources of communication in an enterprise; cross-cultural enquiry into fragrance advertising; an examination of the linguistic content and cognitive assumptions behind early linguistic research in Nigeria (Vol. One [2017]);

perception of harmony in communication (a cross-cultural Polish-Chinese study); delineating stipulations for a holistic paradigm; a proposal for interpreting Chinese ecolinguistics as a new harmonious life paradigm in the age of ecological crisis; the issue of classroom communication as a holistic interaction within a field of meaning; sign languages (both from a typological perspective – the topic of sequentionality – and reporting a perception case study); a cross-cultural analysis of the rhetorical strategies employed in Korean and English texts regarding women’s ordination; a paremiological study from a novel multidimensional perspective; a study investigating the poetics of surconventional music through tracing text-text relationships, text-architext relationships and text-reality relationships; studying the status of women in the language of sports, including analysis of the level of acceptance of feminative names (Vol. Two; [2019]).

The synergic aspect of the project is also reflected in personal attitudes to a component of a scholarly monograph that goes usually underestimated: the cover. One of the questions we asked ourselves was why science monographs have to be predominantly consigned to the strictures of a geometric conjoint of shapes. A canonical research monograph cover emphasizes a fractal nature of reality, which is usually rendered in categorical sets of base colours. This connotes the ←11 | 12→process of doing research, and reflecting it in academic writing as a sterile, clearly defined emotionless and mechanical occupation.

Fig. 1 (a, b).A personal interpretation of inlaid containment. Left panel: photo taken at Diamond Museum, Amsterdam). Right panel: photo taken at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Barcelona. Exposition: Star Trek (2010).

Fig. 1c.Photo taken during the vernissage of the exhibition devoted to the presence of Cyril and Methodius in Moravia: Mezi Východem a Západem. Svatí Cyril a Metoděj v Kultře českých zemí, April 25, 2013, exhibited at the Museum Umění Olomouc (Czech Republic).

←12 | 13→Figure 1 (a, b) above, seeks to meta-conceptually illustrate the defragmentation and containment implied in the analytical side of doing research:5 ana-lyein, ‘break into pieces’ ‒ separation and containment forces in rough terms. Fig. 1.c in turn serves as my personal illustration of synthetic (centripetal) dynamics, also indiespensable for scientific work: the binding together of subsequent co-texts, and imbricating the emergent layers.

The ambiental cover thread proposed in our line of monographs thus aims to make two distinctions: on the one hand, to defy the geometric, square-based distality of doing research, while on the other hand, going beyond the optics of framing and containment in general. This goes on to say that, without implying any prescriptivism for a ‘correct’ way of doing science, the statement put forward here is that perhaps it might be worthwhile to put emphasis, for a potential humanities research reader, on the fact that academic writing and doing research, apart from the necessarily indispensable analytical, diffusive, taxonomical/categorical qualities, also has another side to it: the creativity aspect. In other words, it might be meritorious to look at doing science in the manner that is ascribed stereotypically only to (fine) artists: to acknowledge an active creative process and also a synthesis stage as the rotor behind it.

Acknowledging the creative talent of researchers is implied, first of all, in finding and positioning particular regularities and niches and, while still doing that as creative expression, managing to stick to some preestablished canons ensuring the clarity of the exposition of their work. Creativity that starts with spotting a lacuna, an element of a reality that is worth delving deeper into, devising the best suited tool to interpret that aspect of reality, and relating it to a noematic aspect: a reflection of phenomena as seen by an apperceptive mind. In short: creating a piece of academic writing as creative apperception.

A word that was mentioned at the beginning of this Preface was synergy. It may be important to come back to it in respect to the ontological underpinnings asserted here regarding the communication process. While the classical communication model elaborated by Karl Bühler, subsequently enriched by Roman Jakobson, definitely remains the epitome and the yardstick for communication studies, what has been suggested by the thrust of Intersubjective Plateaus ←13 | 14→in Language and Communication is to inscribe into a line of work that might tentatively be dubbed as Batesonian dialogical bracketing ‒ that is, as [[dialog]] embedded into subsequent layering. In that we approach the optics already proposed by Alfred Whitehead, and pursued by, for example, Francisco Varela, Gregory Bateson or even George Santayana. It would mean that rather than encoding the phenomenon of communication in its planar aspects, and splitting it analytically into, for example, a sender, a receiver, or a code and contouring into, say, a phatic, expressive function, it might also be of interest to look at it in a vertical way, that is, how it might involve added, emerging qualities, bracketed graphically and ‘imbricated’ (Flemmons’ phrasing) into subsequent layers within Umwelt, and, going against, as Bateson put it, ‘the grain of linear control’.6

Fig. 2A Night hawks-inspired dialogic bracketing.

That wide and, emergently, ecological take of the volume is reflected both by the individual contributions but also by considering the totality of papers in their ecological context and, in a way, considering how they interact with each ←14 | 15→other and with the previous topics embarked upon within the series. That aspect belongs to meta-textual grid, hence it is here illustrated not by quoting a piece of scholarship, but by evoking Edward Hopper’s famous work (in my photographic interpretation ‒ [Fig. 2]). In an unprecedented way, that artist mastered the rendition of an emergent communicative dialogue, in particular, embedded in silence as part of that dialogue and warranted by the presence of the other rather than an interlocutor or recipient.

There is a straightforward linear interpretation possible in the case of a ‘Hopperian’ photo in Fig.2, proceeding by identifying the sender, message etc., as well as the possible communicative functions. Nonetheless, the interpretation of this nocturnal visual narrative may relate to the ephemeral hic et nunc and to the transient epoché of a communicative act in a random dystopian place. That might involve intersubjectivity, e.g. by relating to the essence of the tension lonelinessgregariousness within a dystopia, when people are forced to travel at night, or sleep in lorries in work interim slots, or seeking a dialoguic interlude with a haphazard interlocutor.

Fig. 3.Ethnic costumes reflecting tradition and prestige (a photo from family archives).

←15 | 16→There is another dimension of analytical concern in the present volume, which is illustrated by Figure 3, that is, the selective cultural force of hindsight. Intersubjective plateaus are also propelled by stereotypification (cf. Eleanor Rosch’s prototype theory) ‒ both within verbal and visual semiotic systems. Communicative systems have an inherent dimension of acquiring and perpetrating stigma and prestige. That said, the commucation systems in the Barthesian tradition include both verbal (e.g. jokes) and other semiotic systems (e.g. clothing, in the case shown in Fig 3: ethnic/national dress). The children in the photo (which was taken just when WW II ended), brought from central Poland into the eastern territories7 (in the vicinity of Lviv) at the time when the photo was taken, were relocated back to Poland, not in the original place of residence of their family, but on the so-called ‘Regained Territories’ (Lower Silesia). My grandmother (who made all the costumes featured in the photo in their totality by herself), chose the Cracow national dress version, the area where no part of the family had ever dwelled or had any connections with. She did not choose her native region’s version of the dress, nor the version of the Eastern Borderlands where she was forcibly relocated to, where she married and lived for years; she did not choose the version of the costume of the region she was relocated to having returned from exile in the Eastern Borderlands (namely, Lower Silesia), but precisely she chose the Cracow region, which, it might be safely posited, sterotypically connotes Polish tradtion.

The chapters included in this volume continue our flânerie of exploring cultural landscapes and focus their attention on the dialogical and dialectic aspect of communication. The contributions, though diverse, are not unconnected. The monograph was conceived to make a contribution to the widely conceived field of communication studies, yet with the intended readership being mainly from language studies realm. Hence the thematic thrust, without being linguistic, definitely remains contingent on language phenomena. The monograph is organized into four sections that are meta-thematically related. The names of the sections aim to reflect the suggested phenomenological optics. The chapters are grouped into sections, and although they may evidence different perspectives of dealing with the phenomenon of communication, they do share meta-topical concerns, e.g. focusing on collective memory, harmony in communication, the experience of the Other and the importance of novel investigative methods.

The monograph opens with the section Literary epoché in the African context which features two chapters: ‘“Isn’t it just possible that we are all abikus?”: The ←16 | 17→prevalence of the abiku/ogbanje motif in the literature of Nigeria’ by Paula García-Ramírez of the University of Jaén and ‘Contrapuntal othering in the short stories of Nadine Gardimer’ by Beata Świerczewska (Opole University of Technology, Poland). Both contributions convey the intent of searching for a multiplicity of voices/identities in the intricate context of African literature.

Paula García-Ramírez addresses the presence of the myth of abiku ‒ a child-spirit ‒ in Nigerian literature. She exposes the web of linkages between the Other and the Subject on a multiplicity of levels. The text, apart from its obvious linear progression, can be seen as having a concentrically circular structure, reflecting the various imbricated layers of the collective voice in the output of Nigerian writers, both those from the 1960s and contemporary ones.

Biographical notes

Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak (Volume editor) Marta Bogusławska-Tafelska (Volume editor)

Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak is Assistant Professor at the Opole University of Technology. Her research interests include Beats-and Binding phonology, historiography and epistemology of phonological paradigms. Marta Bogusławska-Tafelska is Assistant Professor at the Łomża State University of Applied Sciences, Poland, Department of English Philology. Her research is focused on postclassical models of reality and new paradigms in the language sciences.


Title: Intersubjective Plateaus in Language and Communication